No 'brain farts': Lee in contention at Volvik
Ann Arbor — Rest assured, there will be no chance Minjee Lee doesn’t sign her scorecard this week.
She certainly made sure to do so on Friday after she fired a 6-under 66 in the second round of the Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club to move to 10-under for the tournament and trail leader Sung Hyun Park by two shots.
Less than a week ago after the final round of the Kingsmill Championship and what was about to be Lee’s third top-10 finish in four events, she inexplicably did not sign her card. It led to a disqualification and cost the native of Perth, Australia, more than $24,000.
“I think I just had a brain fart,” Lee said on Thursday after her first round. “I mean, I don’t know how I missed it, but obviously I did and I got DQ’d. But it’s OK, I can laugh about it now.”
After Friday’s round, Lee had clearly moved on from the gaffe. She overcame a bogey on No. 12 — her third hole of the day — to birdie four of the final five holes on the back side. She added two more birdies on the front, including a 20-foot putt on No. 9 to close her round.
“I feel pretty comfortable out there,” Lee said. “I mean, I was having fun out there and kept it pretty light with my caddie. Yeah, just played golf, really.
“Obviously (making the birdie on the final hole) is momentum going to the next day. It’s nice to finish up on a high note.”
Lee has been playing well this season after winning twice in 2016. After missing two straight cuts in the middle of March, she closed the month with a tie for third at the ANA Inspiration and added a tie for fifth at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.
It’s left the 2015 LGPA Rookie of the Year feeling like her game is right where it needs to be to get her first win of the season.
“Yeah, I’ve been hitting it pretty solid and putting pretty well,” Lee said. “Coming into this week, obviously, I know my game’s there.”
It will really have to be there over the weekend to keep up with Park, who had six birdies on the back nine to overcome a bogey at 15 and finish with a 7-under 65.
“I think I started birdie-birdie on the first two holes and after that I kind of lost it a little bit,” Park said. “But going into the back nine, the first hole on 10 I made a birdie, and from that point on I think my putting kind of came back alive.”
Park will play in the final group on Saturday and admitted there will be plenty of pressure — not just to get her first Tour win but to appease the huge following she has in her home country of South Korea.
“Obviously I have a huge expectation being in the final group, being that much closer to winning,” Park said. “But I have a lot of experience playing in the championship groups and I’ll stick with my plan and play my game for the rest of the week.”
Joining Lee two shots off the lead was Sweden’s Suzann Pettersen, who shot her second straight 67. Pettersen had a chance to gain what would have been a temporary lead when she left a birdie putt on 18 just inches short of the cup.
However, after getting back to action last week following a bit of a break, Pettersen feels she’s in good position.
“Two 67s, you can’t ever complain,” she said. “Played some really good golf, gave myself a lot of good looks. Like I said yesterday, this course, if you’re in the fairways, it’s almost like throwing darts. I mean you can kind of fire at every pin even if they’re very close to the edges, so feeling good.”
Five players sit at 9-under, including Lizette Salas, who matched Park for the round of the day with a 7-under 67. Also at 9-under are Cydney Clanton, Shanshan Feng, Sarah Jane Smith and Ann Arbor native Jennifer Song.
First-round co-leaders Stacy Lewis and Wei-Ling Hsu had up-and-down rounds and remained at 7-under for the tournament after shooting even-par 72 on Friday.
Both finished strong, however, as Hsu eagled 14 and birdied 15 while Lewis had a brilliant par save on No. 9, draining a 20-foot putt to save par.
“I hit a bad drive and had a pretty bad lie in the rough and made a great 20-footer for par,” Lewis said. “So it’s always nice kind of to end the day seeing a putt go in, especially when not as many went in today. So a couple things to work on, but it wasn’t far off today.”